The House of Representatives’ public accounts committee has expressed displeasure over the inability of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons to provide relevant documents to back up the spending of N25 billion appropriated for it between 2015 and 2019.
The committee on Monday, according to Punch, in an audit query issued by the office of the auditor-general of the Federation, faulted the explanations given by the officials of the commission on how the releases were spent.
In its presentation, the commission said a total sum of N28.959 billion was appropriated to it between 2015 to 2019, of which the sum of N1.894 billion was meant for personnel cost, N433.218 million for overhead cost, and N23.923 billion for capital expenditure.
However, the commission’s director of finance and account, Umaru Hassan, who gave the presentation, said the sum of N22.369 billion was released, N14.735 billion of which was for capital expenditure.
Mr Hassan was reported by Punch to have given the breakdown of allocations for the implementation of various zonal intervention projects as N2.583 billion in 2015, N1.462 billion in 2016, N2.346 billion in 2017, N1.058 billion in 2018, and N1.370 billion in 2019.
“In addition to this,” Mr Hassan said, “an additional N100m was released to the commission from the Service Wide Vote in 2017.”
Not satisfied with this, the committee’s chairman, Wole Oke, while requesting for details of all the capital projects by the commission, said there were inconsistencies in the documents tendered by the commission.
“He (Hassan) is out to defend the expenditure of N25 billion. That is the task before us now. What did you do with N25 billion? Yes, you could make payment to X, Y, Z, which is reflected in the bank statement (presented to the committee),” Punch quoted Mr Oke saying.
“What is the purpose of the payment? You’ve given us your record, even with all the inaccuracies, which is human error.”
The federal commissioner of the agency, Basheer Mohammed, later owned up to the allegations by the lawmakers. He said the commission will “correct the errors to avoid further embarrassment.”
The commission was given a week to reconcile the discrepancies in its report.
Data from the United Nations refugee agency says that as of 2019, Nigeria has over 244,000 refugees and more than 2 million internally displaced persons.
The displacement of these people was caused by a series of disasters, communal clashes over the years in various parts of the country and a decade-long insurgency in the northern part of the country.
NCFRMI has a mandate to plan the return, resettlement, rehabilitation and reintegration of victims of these disasters.
But media reports have exposed the extremely poor living conditions experienced by these persons. An investigation by TheCable detailed how some IDPs had to forgo schooling to pick up menial jobs because they had nothing to eat, despite food and welfare donations from organisations, as well as government intervention.
At the tail of last year, PREMIUM TIMES reported how NCFRMI’s sister agency, NEMA, shared food items as “end of the year gifts” to its staff, a discovery is denied.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...